Take Your Leadership to the Intercession Zone

by Andy Wood on January 13, 2014

in Five LV Laws, Following Your Passion, Leadership, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Principle of Eternity


You probably won’t read about this in your favorite leadership book – even the Christian-flavored ones.  You almost certainly won’t read about it in the latest wave of business tomes or political memoirs.  And yet nearly every significant leader of every stripe in the Bible practiced this.

The politicians did it.

The prophets did it.

The priests did it.

The preachers did it.

The patriarchs did it.

I’m running out of things that start with “p,” but if you think of something, they probably did it too.

What’s this “secret weapon” of leadership?  This so-obvious-it’s-embarrassing-we-missed-it practice of every revolutionary influence I can think of in scripture?

They all positioned themselves between God and the situations and people they wanted to influence.

They interceded.

I hear the air going out of your bubble.  “Oh.  That.  Yeah, we need to pray for our people and for guidance as leaders.”

Wait.  I didn’t say they prayed, even though they did.  I said they interceded.  They stood or knelt or prostrated themselves between a God they believed could change things and the people or situations that needed changing.  They functioned as priests – intermediaries who represented the people to God and God to the people.

And I’m daring you to do the same thing.

Okay, so you’re a bank president. A newspaper editor. A single father or mother.  So you’re a city council member or the manager of the produce section at Safeway.  So you’re the pastor of Mega-whoop church or Microchurch.  If you are in a position to influence people and you haven’t learned to influence God on their behalf, you are neglecting the most powerful resource at your disposal.

Take your leadership to the Intercession Zone.

I hear that objection already… “But I’m not a leader, or even an influential person.”

First of all, I seriously doubt that. Second, many a man or woman has emerged into leadership from Parts Unknown precisely because they stood in the gap for people or causes they cared about.  Take Nehemiah, for example.  Just give him back when you’re done – he’s one of my faves.

Here was a guy who had never been to Jerusalem, had never led an army or city council meeting. Heck, he’d never conducted a choir rehearsal for all we know.  He just served wine to the king of Persia.  But when the news came that his people were a laughingstock – an epic disappointment –  something tore his heart out.

And something called his influence to its upright and locked position.

Nehemiah takes great pains to explain not just that he interceded for this family of strangers for four months, but also what he prayed.  There we can learn some insights as to the nature of spiritually influential people.

1.  They are Confident in God

I beseech You, O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments” (Nehemiah 1:5).

When you’re leading from the Intercession Zone, you do so with faith in God.  Know why Nehemiah became governor?  Because even with a deep sense of futility and a broken heart, he still believed that his God was great and awesome.  He knew that the Lord kept His covenant alive.

God is bigger than your local economy, stronger than that hidden terror cell, more aware than the NSA and smarter than the collective wisdom of Congress (wait for it… wait for it… okay you can laugh now).  You can trust Him to engage in your business decisions, family conflicts, or impossible-looking problems.  That’s where you stand when you’re leading in the Intercession Zone.

2.  They are Consistent in their communication with God.

…let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night, on behalf of the sons of Israel Your servants… (Nehemiah 1:6).

Day and night Nehemiah prayed without ceasing, from a position of what New Testament believers in Christ call abiding.  This was not an event or special emphasis.  It was a lifestyle.

Was it desperate? Yes.  But this was no foxhole prayer about saving Private Ryan – even though desperation praying has its place.  Leading from the Intercession Zone is more of a continuous operation. It’s praying without ceasing, as Paul described it.

3.  They are Confessional about the shortcomings of the group.

I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses (Nehemiah 1:6-7).

Leading from the Intercession Zone confronts the elephants in the room, particularly if the elephant has to do with past failure or weakness.  Here, for example, Nehemiah acknowledges the sinfulness and unworthiness of Israel as a nation, making sure to include himself in the mix.

I suggest you do the same.  Bring the weaknesses, the failures, the selfishness, and the mistakes of your team, your family, your organization, your employees, or even your nation before God.  If Nehemiah can confront colossal failure from seventy years ago as part of the problem, you can bring to God that petty personality conflict taking place in your office as well.

4.  They leverage the promises God makes to his people.

Remember the word which You commanded Your servant Moses, saying… ‘if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause My name to dwell’ (Nehemiah 1:8-9).

Living in an abiding-type of relationship with Christ helps you become very familiar with God’s promises.  You also become very free to use them in your approach to the Lord. Why? Because you discover how much He delights in people taking Him at His word.

Different promises focus on different situations and often come with different conditions. That’s certainly true of the promise Nehemiah claimed here.  But catch this:  He had no idea how obediently the people in Israel were living at the time.  By leading from the Intercession Zone, he was, in effect, obeying on behalf of all the people.  And God respected that prayer.

Can you trace the implications of that for you in your places of influence?

5.  They appeal to relationship.

They are Your servants and Your people whom You redeemed by Your great power and by Your strong hand (Nehemiah 1:10).

When Nehemiah interceded for those dispirited, defeated people in Jerusalem, he did so on the basis of their relationship, not their performance or worthiness.  He appealed to their commitment as servants, their covenant with God, and the fact that God had already redeemed them.

In New Testament terms, everybody you lead is someone that Jesus died for and loves more than you.  Even if they are not in a personal relationship with God at the moment, you are, and you are interceding on their behalf.  So pray for their personal growth and performance.  Pray for them to come to know Christ or to grow as His disciple.  Pay attention to the way people in the Bible describe the ways they pray.  Nearly all of it is on the basis of relationship with God.

6.  They ask boldly.

O Lord, I beseech You, may Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and the prayer of Your servants who delight to revere Your name, and make Your servant successful today and grant him compassion before this man (Nehemiah 1:11).

Let’s be clear about what Nehemiah was asking for – the successful completion of a construction project.  Did it have spiritual implications?  Yes.  But so does the success you are pursuing, whether you’ve recognized the spiritual dimensions of that or not.

Success to Nehemiah was the completion of a project they had failed for 40 years to do.  But he had broken that success down to a series of steps – and the next step involved getting favor from the king to return.  And get this – it took him twice as long to boldly ask for success from God as it did to actually build the wall when God finally said yes.

Leading from the Intercession Zone means having the audacity to ask God for favor and success in the next step… not for your benefit, but for the sake of the people you lead.  This all took place before Nehemiah was ever the governor.  Your greatest influence may take place long before you get the official job as well.


You haven’t led fully until you have carried the concerns and issues of your organization or people to God. With them or without them, lead boldly and faithfully from the Intercession Zone.  Like Nehemiah, you’ll be laughed at and intimidated by petty people. But you will discover places of influence you will never have any other way.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Martha Orlando January 15, 2014 at 8:07 am

Tried to share on FB, but wouldn’t take. 🙁 Such a shame as this is an absolutely marvelous post!
Blessings, Andy!
Martha Orlando´s last blog post ..Keep Calm and Carry On

leadership January 22, 2014 at 12:33 pm

The leader’s third major function is acting as spokesman for the group, expressing their hostilities and fears as well as their aspirations and hopes. In order to do this, the leader not only must be sensitive to the emotions of the others but to a large extent must share these feelings himself. As spokesman, he must also he skillful in translating the group’s feelings into both words and actions.
leadership´s last blog post ..Personal Qualities Of a Leader

Maureen Jones September 30, 2014 at 10:40 pm

Thank you for releasing the spirit of intercession. Instead of complaining about the people we must lead, pray for them.

Gregory Clark October 22, 2014 at 10:56 pm

I enjoyed reading Take Your Leadership to the Intercession Zone. I have learned a lot from the piece and it was very inspirational.
Gregory Clark´s last blog post ..Where Grace Has the Final Word

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